GAINESVILLE - Members of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee convened a two hour field hearing in Gainesville, the only one in Georgia, Monday that focused on the rural America impact of the Affordable Care Act.
Committee members, including 9th District Republican Congressman Doug Collins of Gainesville, heard testimony before a near capacity audience in the 300-seat Hall Government Center meeting room and asked questions of four witnesses who said the ACA, or Obamacare, was a failure and they feared its continuing effects.
Collins said the hearing set the stage for Republican led health care reform, the American Health Care Reform Act.
"I think what it does is provide different solutions without taking over health care, "Collins said. "I think that's what we're going to be looking at as we get back into this. The problem is the Obama Care Act is in place and to actually make some reform we're going to have to take out and the President is going to have to be willing see that his plan is a failure."
Collins said reform needs to be market driven to drive down costs and it has to be patient centered to keep people in their plans and trusting the doctors they're accustomed to. Collins predicted that the cost of complying with ACA would continue to grow and continue to kill jobs.
"When we talk about killing jobs this is exactly what we mean," Collins added. "These compliance costs are keeping employers from increasing employment and expand their businesses. This is a job killer, that's what we've said all along."
Collins was joined at the Congressional hearing desk by Rep. Rob Woodall of Georgia's Seventh District and Mark Meadows from North Carolina's 11th District. Members of Congress who attended but do not sit on the Oversight Committee included Georgia 1st District Congressman Jack Kingston and 11th District Congressman from Georgia Dr. Phil Gingrey.
Committee members heard from Dr. Jeff Reinhardt, President of Longstreet Clinic, serving both urban and rural hospitals. Reinhardt said ACA is impacting rural and small medical offices.
"What's happened is that you have had a lot of consolidation of practices, a lot, and you have small practices that can no longer function in that capacity," Rienhardt said.
Reinhart added doctors are going to hospitals and larger medical groups in urban areas, reducing the number of rural providers and elevating the cost of medical care.
President of E2E Benefits Services Inc., Raymer Sale Jr., an employee benefits expert, told Oversight and Government Reform Committee members that almost from the start, companies knew that people keeping the insurance they had was a broken promise from President Obama.
"The National Association of Health Underwriters produced a document indicating that 80 percent of the plans would lose their 'grandfather' status within the first couple of years," Sale told committee members.
Emma Lucille Collins, who is self employed, told how much her health insurance premiums went up because of Obama care.
"Our cost went from an affordable $265 a month to an outrageous $898 a month," Collins said. "That is a 248 percent increase."
Collins added her deductable under the ACA accepted plan was an unreachable $6,000 for one family member and $12,000 for two family members.
Another witness, small business owner Michael Boyette, said Obama care was really an 'Obama tax'.